Friday, May 6, 2011

Enkianthus campanulatus 'Showy Lantern' and the species

This is a great plant, but another Ericaceous taxa that needs to be babied for a few years as far as watering goes. Not too much and definitely not too little. When it's finally established though it's a wonderful shrub to small tree. I remember being stumped by one in Chevy Chase. I don't recall the exact height but it was much taller than I am....I think it was at least 20 feet tall. I finally realized what it was and felt a bit foolish. It's a great plant if you've got good irrigation or patience and a good attention span.

I got so excited about the Snow Poppies, Eomecon chionantha, that I moved a grouping

into the Osmanthus copse at the GCA Circle. And I convinced Amanda to transplant a few to China Valley. In the picture she's planting some under one of the Magnolia denudata in the Memorial Planting at the top of China Valley. She also put a small drift across the trail under the Philadelphus. It is a lovely plant with leaves reminiscent of those of Bloodroot.

I happened to look it up in Graham Stuart Thomas; he liked it and has a better common name, "Poppy of the Dawn". He did mention that it can be a bit enthusiastic. I think we sited it appropriately.

What a gusher!

I parked downstream, actually out of sight of the hydrant; it looked like we had a leak on Korean Hill. I started to get on the radio, then noticed a bit of water running down the edge of the road. I headed up the road to find the leak and was happily surprised to see facilities testing the pressure in our new fire hydrant. They weren't thrilled with it, though it looked good to me.

One summer when I was in college I worked for a landscape company that had a contract with WSSC, out water utility. They repaired hydrant blowouts and replaced turf. It's been over 35 years and my memory isn't great but I seem to recall doing between 10 and 20 a day. Who knew there were that many defective fire hydrants? Anyway we had a number of ours, the Arboretums's, replaced this past winter; they didn't blow out. That's a blessing. And the contractor graded and seeded the area. It's looking good right now.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today was a beautiful day and we had all 6 of our volunteers

Betty, Eugenia, and Terry continued to work west from the Chimonanthus overlook, picking up where they left off last time. Carmen, Julie, and Nancy weeded everything from the GCA circle beds to halfway down the valley. There they are in the picture halfway down the valley....almost. It's a beautiful place to work; all the Japanese iris are coming into bloom and there are Azaleas, Chionanthus, Styrax, Clethra.... We also planted a few tropicals: some Colocasia from Brad and two accessions of Musella.

Once a year GrayC gets her packing crate from Avery Island, Louisiana

Geniune Tobasco brand peppers, Capsicum frutescens var. tobasco. The seeds are all grown on Avery Island as a proprietary trade secret. Pepper production is distributed among various sites in Central and South America. I'm thinking uniformity of peppers allows for uniformity of flavor. These plants will go out in the Herb Garden along with other interesting selections.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Beltsville Library Courtyard Garden 4's looking good!

from the top: a view inside out with the big River Birch arching over everything, Salvia x 'Eveline', Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey', Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace' Lonicera sempervirens, Goldie's Fern with Phlox stolonifera and Coralbark Maple

I'm going to have to weed this weekend: all that rain! Still, there are a lot of different plants in bloom, the banana is up, so are the gingers, and most happily for me, the Ninebark 'Diablo' that I moved to a corner adjacent to "Buzz Lightyear" (the Betula nigra) seems to be able to handle the root competition. It would be great to have an alternative to the nandinas there and this seems to be working. I first saw this Salvia at North Creek Nurseries; a Future Plants release, it's quite dependable and obviously beautiful. 'Little Honey' Oakleaf hydrangea I tried as an experiment. There was a good deal of negative buzz about it, but it seems to be doing well though it's only been in the ground a year. It sits in a grouping incuding 'Diablo' Ninebark, Cotinus 'Royal Purple', and last year Canna 'Australia'; all those plants have super dark foliage and the yellow hydrangea looked like it was on fire amongst all that maroon and purple. The dark foliage of the elderberry does look good against the pale wall; it's got a few buds so it'll flower soon and it's growing strongly. The flowers will be pink. The older I get, the less I resist pink flowers. The last two pictures include some natives, Lonicera sempervirens, Trumpet Honeysuckle, is a wonderful native vine that flowers heavily now, but is hardly ever without flowers. It isn't fragrant, but it won't eat the whole garden either. In the bottom picture, the tree is a Coral Bark Japanese Maple, but the flowers are Phlox stolonifera and the fern is one of my favorite native plants, Dryopteris goldiana, Goldie's Fern. I just stuck a small division of one of my plants in last year and it's taken hold.

The garden is really coming in and I'm pretty psyched!

It rained till noon today....I like to make a point of walking the entire collection on rainy days

The top picture is the island bed at the north end of the Korean Collection. The two large trees are a Weeping Katsura and Acer griseum. The second picture is the entrance to the Camellia Collection from the road. The camellias are pretty much over for the season but the Dogwood Collection which begins just off the left side of the trail, is exploding into color. The last picture is the odd sky that happened as the cold front pushed east, vanquishing the hot humid rainy weather we'd just experienced.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pink form of Silverbell, White Fir, Royal Azalea, Fern-leafed peony, Paperbark Cherry, Weeping Katsura at Gordon Hagen's Arboretum

from the top: Halesia monticola 'Rosea', Abies concolor, Rhododendron schlippenbachii, Paeonia tenuifolia, Prunus serrula, Cerciphyllum japonicum weeping form

Gordon Hagen not only has great magnolias, but many many other mature choice plants. I didn't photograph any of his Acer griseum, but he had...between fifty and a hundred, some quite large. Instead of the Paperbark Maple, I photographed the Paperbark Cherry!

Pat, Carole, Chris and I went to visit Gordon Hagen's's Magnolia Collection in Thurmont Maryland

From the top: Magnolia
'Dark Shadow', 'Hot Flash', 'Joe McDaniels', 'Sun Ray'

It's pretty impressive. On 150 acres withing a stone's throw of Camp David, Gordon has well over 300 Magnolias. While ours at the Arboretum, maybe 40 miles south, have finished flowering, we saw blooms on.....I'm guessing maybe around 100 plants. He has a particularly impressive collection of the yellow flowered M. acuminata hybrids.

I didn't take great notes, but I believe he told us his father bought the property in the early 1940's and he, Gordon that is, began planting in 1965. After living on the west coast, Seattle, he returned in 1972 bringing a few plants with him. They have grown to impressive proportions in 45 years. And he's added plants in the intervening years. It has become truly an impressive Arboretum. In addition to magnolias he has impressive plantings of Prunus, Viburnum, Acer, and many genera of conifers.

Pretty clematis...I don't know what it is, but I'm sure Carole will tell me

Whenever I feel the need to be humbled, I just visit Carole and Mike Bordelon's garden. We stopped by today to pick up Carole on the way to a visit to a Magnolia collection upstate. I was impressed by both the plant and the way it was displayed on the fence.

Chionanthus retusus, the Chinese Fringe Tree.....I got to work today and noticed this bag

Somebody's doing some pollenating. Richard Olsen has been working with this plant for a few years. I don't know what this cross is about, but it is. Chionanthus retusus is an Asian version of our own native Chionanthus virginicus. Both are nice plants. I'm not going to use the "I" word in reference to C. retusus, but I will note that it is both free seeding and vigorous. Of course as a rabid "nativist", I prefer to see C. virginicus used in local plantings, but I do admit that they are different plants and can understand the choice of C. retusus in certain situations.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fortune's Double old Tea Rose

I like this rose, at least I like looking at it and smelling it. It has nasty vicious short, strong, hooked thorns that are seriously dangerous. Stefan put three of them in China Valley and we (Amanda and I) got rid of one. Hey, they seem to want to be 15 feet in diameter and 5 feet high. Well, the height really isn't a problem, but that's a dangerous 50 square feet of weeding. Anyway two are enough.

It's apparently an old Tea rose discovered in 1845 and it is beautiful and fragrant, and though it doesn't rebloom, it's worth the space it takes up.

an unidentified Saunder's hybrid, Paeonia 'Age of Gold', Paeonia 'Apricot', Paeonia x lemoinea 'Argosy'

At some point (that we have already passed this year) the tree peonies and the hybrids shift from being cool pinks and purples to yellows, apricots, and warmish reds. I love this Saunder's hybrid that's growing along the path to the pagoda. Karen has a line on someone who may be ready to sell their entire collection of tree peonies (~300). I will keep locals apprised of developments. And I only hope that when I get to a point where I'm no longer able to maintain my plants I dispose of the important ones responsibly....

Globularia meridionalis.....I got it from Mike Bordelon at the Beltsville Garden Club Sale and now it's flowering

It's kind of like a scabiosa for gnomes. This is a tough plant for the mixed border; it's only about 3 inches high so it disappears easily. Realy, it's a rock garden plant, but since I don't have a rock garden I have to do the best I can. The rock will help.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Look, young children turn to gardening naturally when the opportunity presents itself

my sons, Peter, with the mattock, and Max, squatting with mulch

I rode over for the start of the installation today, just to place the plants. The clients were so companionably friendly and the neighborhood (North Hills) so downright congenial, I couldn't make myself leave. So I puttered around and provided conversational inspiration. I hope. I think young Nick may have been of as much use as I was; he collected stones and roots in an old 15 gallon pot.